The man widely believed to be at the center of an iconic 1945 photo showing a sailor kissing a nurse in the middle of Times Square on V-J Day has died.
The Associated Press reports that Glenn McDuffie died of natural causes on Sunday in a nursing home in Dallas.
His identification as the "kissing sailor" was controversial. But McDuffie always claimed he was the sailor and as The Dallas Morning News reports a renowned forensic artist bolstered his case in 2005. The paper reports:
"By taking about 100 pictures of McDuffie using a pillow to pose as he did in the picture taken Aug. 14, 1945, by photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt, [Houston Police Department forensic artist Lois Gibson] said, she was able to match the muscles, ears and other features of the then-80-year-old McDuffie to the young sailor in the original image.
"'I was absolutely positive,' Gibson said of the match. 'It was perfect.'
"The identification remained controversial, partly because other men also claimed to have been the sailor in the image, but also because Life magazine, whose photographer had died years earlier, was unable to confirm that McDuffie was in fact the sailor, noting that Eisenstaedt had never gotten names for those in the picture."
The image became iconic because it captured what Americans felt like when a half-decade of conflict ended. As Life explains it, the nation let loose:
"While the joy and relief that surged through the entire country — and across much of the globe, or certainly across those parts of it allied with America — was heartfelt, the celebrations in many major cities were hardly all sweetness and light. In fact, as several of the images and captions here make clear, some of the tumult unleashed by word of Japan's surrender quickly (and perhaps inevitably) devolved into what can only be described as riots.
"Booze flowed, inhibitions were cast off, there were probably as many fists thrown as kisses planted; in other words, once the inconceivable had actually been confirmed and it was clear that the century's deadliest, most devastating war was finally over, Americans who for years had become accustomed to almost ceaseless news of death and loss were not quite ready for a somber, restrained reaction to the surrender. That would come, of course. There would be, in the coming months and years, a more considered, reflective response to the war and to the enemies America had fought so brutally, and at such cost, for so long.
"But in the giddy and even chaotic first few hours after the announcement, people naturally took to the streets of cities and towns all over the country. And while some of the merriment was no doubt of a quieter, G-rated variety, it's hardly surprising that countless grown men and women seized the opportunity for cathartic revelry, giving vent to joy and relief as well as to the pent-up anxieties, fears, sorrows and anger of the previous several years."
According to Time, McDuffie went on to play semi-pro baseball and got a job at the postal service.
Reuters notes that in a 2007 interview with The Houston Chronicle, he said he never spoke to the nurse before he kissed her.
"When I got off from the subway, a lady told me the war was over, and I went into the street yelling. I saw the nurse and she was smiling at me, so I just grabbed her," he said.
McDuffie was 86 years old.
The bipartisan agreement in the Senate over a five-month extension of federal unemployment insurance for the long-term jobless may seem like a breakthrough.
But for Sister Marge Clark, senior lobbyist for NETWORK — a national Catholic social justice lobby that welcomes the news, the fact that the agreement is seen as a progress shows just how far the political situation in Washington has deteriorated.
"Some of the politics is just the partisan gridlock," Clark, who's lobbied lawmakers' staff members on the benefits issue, told It's All Politics. "It's always been bipartisan, until now."
Her position is grounded on Catholic social commitment dating back to the 1880s that asserts that the federal government must act to help those affected negatively when the private sector doesn't produce enough jobs, she said.
According to the Congressional Research Service (see Table 1), the disputed jobless insurance program has been extended more than a dozen times since its creation in 2008, as the Great Recession has gained steam. Congress had always approved it, until last year, which caused the benefits to expire at the end of 2013.
Clark said much resistance to the extension is ideological. "I think they're some of the same people who believe if you take away benefits and you give more money to the people who have the most money already, that more jobs will be created," she says.
"There are some who also believe — as Paul Ryan attested to a couple days ago ... [that] there's a culture among some people of not believing in work. Having lived in the inner city 28 years of my life and having worked in inner-city schools another 15 years, what Paul Ryan says does not ring true at all. But I do think there is a mentality like that among some people."
In stating a conservative position, Club for Growth spokesman Barney Keller told It's All Politics: "The fact is that unemployment benefits increase unemployment; they provide disincentives to work. Expanding [benefits] for another five months isn't going to put people back to work, isn't going to increase economic growth. So it's just bad policy." Though he acknowledges it could be good politics, since polls generally show majorities of Americans favoring the extension.
Club for Growth opposes the federal government's role in jobless benefits on principle, arguing that such assistance is properly a state role.
But given the reality that the federal government already plays a large role in such insurance, Keller said that whether his organization decides to score the new Senate legislative agreement negatively will depend on how lawmakers decide to pay for it.
"It would depend on what the offset was. If the offset is real, and it's cutting current spending in an equal amount [to what] we're spending on the unemployment benefit," then the group might be persuaded to withhold a negative rating, he said.
"But in the past, Congress has either passed clean extensions of unemployment benefits, which we've opposed, or extensions that are jokes," Keller said.
The agreement reached by 10 senators — equally split between Democrats and Republicans — would pay for the five months in additional jobless-insurance benefits by extending certain U.S. custom duties for 10 years. Changes to a federal pension program over 10 years would also offset the costs of the benefits, the lawmakers said.
Several of the senators who negotiated the agreement are, not surprisingly, from three states with the highest jobless rates in February. Democrat Jack Reed of Rhode Island and Nevada Republican Dean Heller led negotiations. Both senators from Illinois — Richard Durbin, the Senate's No. 2 Democrat, and Republican Mark Kirk — were also part of the group. As were both senators from Ohio, Republican Rob Portman and Democrat Sherrod Brown. Ohio is in the top third of states with the highest jobless rates.
With a floor vote likely later in March, and the five Republicans added to the 55 votes the Democrats can muster, the deal appears to have the 60 votes needed in the Senate to escape a filibuster.
But then there's the House, where its prospects are much more uncertain. Would Speaker John Boehner insist on support from a majority of the Republican majority before he scheduled a vote? Or would he let the legislation move to the House floor without that?
Sister Clark believes that decision might come down to how "fed up" Boehner is with the House's Tea Party faction when the Senate legislation moves to the House. "If he's fed up enough, he may well just do a straight up-and-down vote," she says. "He will get tremendous pressure against that. I think there's a slim chance he might do an up-down vote, but it's slim."
That's particularly true since it's an election year, during which Boehner would prefer to keep his House GOP conference as unified as possible.
Five months before his 2012 reelection, President Obama announced that his administration would stop deportations of more than a half million young adults, often referred to as "Dreamers," brought illegally to the U.S. as children.
Latinos subsequently turned out to vote in record numbers that fall. More than 70 percent marked their ballots for Obama - helping him win the popular vote, and triumph in key battleground states.
But with growing anger among Latinos over the continued aggressive pace of adult deportations, and with Democrats facing an unforgiving mid-term election season, Obama said Thursday he would review the administration's immigration enforcement policies. The pivot came amid pressure to slow deportations — or even halt them for some new groups.
"In my humble opinion, there is nothing to stop the president of the United States from saying the moms and dads of the Dreamers should be able to apply for the same kind of discretion as their children," said Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill. He was among Hispanic congressional leaders who met Thursday with Obama to discuss immigration and the increasingly contentious deportation issue.
Before the meeting, "the president said there was nothing he could do about" the deportations, Gutierrez said in an interview Friday with NPR. (There have been more than two million during Obama's administration.)
"Yesterday, he said 'we're looking at options,'" Gutierrez said. "I think that's a step in the right direction."
Though the White House has indicated it is unlikely to expand the Dreamers deportation moratorium, the topic is expected to be part of conversations that Hispanic leaders will be having with administration officials in coming weeks. Other options also being discussed include: suspending deportation of parents and spouses of U.S. citizens, of immediate family of military service members, and of people with temporary immigration status who could be allowed to apply for permanent status.
Gutierrez and fellow members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus dropped plans to introduce a resolution to urge the president to slow deportations in the interest of keeping families together.
"It seems better to speak with someone than pass a resolution," Gutierrez said.
Obama's post-meeting pledge to see how his administration "can conduct enforcement more humanely within the confines of the law" prompted a warning from Republicans that unilateral executive action could jeopardize the prospects of comprehensive immigration overhaul legislation.
A comprehensive bill passed by the Senate last June has languished in the GOP-controlled House. On Thursday, House Republicans passed a bill that would allow Congress to sue the president for failing to enforce immigration laws by offering temporary legal status to Dreamers.
A 2011 memo on deportation by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus for Obama provides insight into what Latino activists are pushing for from the president and the Department of Homeland Security, which enforces immigration law.
That memo, which outlined the Dreamers action taken by the president a year later, also describes what it characterizes as legal ways that deportations that separate families can be mitigated in the absence of a comprehensive national immigration policy.
The memo, provided by Gutierrez's office, proposes deferred deportation actions for otherwise law-abiding parents of DREAM-eligible individuals, and for the parents of children born in the U.S., but who have overstayed their visas.
Young people eligible as Dreamers (named after failed DREAM Act legislation) are immune from deportation if they were brought to the U.S. before age 16, have lived in the country for five consecutive years, graduated from high school or served in the military, and have no convictions for felonies, or for significant or multiple misdemeanors.
When Congress returns from its spring break at the end of the month, Hispanic congressional leaders will meet with Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson.
Until then, says Gutierrez, Latino activists will keep up pressure on the president, and on House Republicans.
"There is no confusion in the immigrant community about which party is blocking immigration reform," he said, noting that 2000 Latino citizens turn 18 every day - a "demographic tsunami" that he says Republicans know is coming and can't ignore.
And about anger toward Obama, whom some Latino activists have dubbed "Deporter in Chief," he said this: "He's our friend. He's our ally. This is not easy. I have nothing but respect, admiration and love for Barack Obama."
But, he adds: "Our first allegiance is to the immigrant community, and second to our party."
Just how far the president will go to placate that community during a mid-term election year that has his party on the run remains to be seen.
The United States announced its intention on Friday of relinquishing its remaining control of the Internet.
In a statement, the U.S. Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration said it wants to relinquish its oversight of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers.
ICAAN is a kind of cooperative that includes a wide array of companies and people, as well as more than 100 governments. One of the key functions overseen by the U.S. is the assignment of domain names. (Think of .com or .org.)
"The timing is right to start the transition process," Lawrence E. Strickling, the assistant secretary of commerce for communications and information, said in a statement. "We look forward to ICANN convening stakeholders across the global Internet community to craft an appropriate transition plan."
NPR's Steve Henn tells our Newscast unit that the world community has been calling for this handover for a while. But the current revelations over spying by the National Security Agency has led to louder calls.
"The announcement by the Commerce Department Friday that it would relinquish its oversight role of ICANN was widely viewed as a response to that criticism," Steve reports. "Administration officials have said any new governance structure for ICANN should be transparent and free from any hint of government interference."
The Commerce Department adds that it was always the intention of the United States to hand over these responsibilities to the global community.
"The impact of the change remains unclear, because the Commerce Department's day-to-day role in overseeing the contract with Icann is largely clerical. However, other nations have suggested the U.S. can still use its current authority to block certain websites for reasons like copyright infringement or having links to known terrorists. One goal of transitioning Icann to nongovernmental oversight would be to provide more transparency to all nations into how the Internet's root structure operates.
"Until 1998, the functions were managed by Jon Postel, a computer scientist at the University of Southern California, one of the early pioneers of the World Wide Web. Upon Postel's death in 1998, the Commerce Department issued a contract to Icann to take over those functions, making Icann the primary body in charge of setting policy for Internet domains and addresses."
Commercial aviation pilots tell NPR that they would have no idea how to disable all the systems designed to automatically communicate with ground stations, though they could probably figure it out from checklists and other documentation available aboard an aircraft.
Aircraft such as the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777, which disappeared over the Gulf of Thailand a week ago, are equipped with transponders that give their position to air traffic control. The transponders can be switched off with a flick of a switch. But modern planes like the 777 have two other systems as well: cockpit radios and a text-based system known as aircraft communications addressing and reporting system, or ACARS, which can be used to send messages or information about the plane.
But the plane's transponder appears to have been intentionally shut off and the ACARS may have been shut down as well.
Turning off the radios and ACARS would be more difficult. NPR's Geoff Brumfiel spoke with commercial pilots, including two who have flown Boeing 777s similar to the jet that vanished with 239 people aboard. He says the pilots tell him that those systems are "pretty hard-wired into a modern aircraft.
"They said you'd have to go through big checklists, you'd have to possibly pull circuit breakers if you wanted to deactivate [all the communications equipment]," Brumfiel tells All Things Considered host Melissa Block.
"So, to do this, you'd have to have some degree of premeditation and a lot of knowledge of the aircraft," he says.
Even without those systems, the plane's satellite antenna appears to have kept communicating for at least 5 1/2 hours after Malaysia Air MH370 disappeared from air-traffic controllers' radar.
"That's caused many to speculate that somebody tried to make this plane vanish," Brumfiel says.
"Every hour, [a] satellite would send a signal going, 'Are you still there?' and the plane would send a signal back saying, 'Yep, I'm here,' " he says, adding that for whatever reason — possibly because Malaysia Airlines hadn't paid a nominal fee to providers, there was apparently no avionics data being relayed from the aircraft.
Even so, he says, "it may be possible that the company that owns the satellite, Inmarsat, might be able to get a sense of where the plane was, where it was moving and what it was doing."
Meanwhile, a U.S. government official who is being updated on progress of the investigation says the working theory remains "air piracy," an umbrella term that could mean either the pilot or someone else commandeered the aircraft.
NPR's Tom Bowman reports that a U.S. official familiar with the investigation says that U.S. government agencies are working with their Indian counterparts to take a close look at radar data to see if the plane flew over the Indian Ocean, as one theory suggests.
Bowman says Malaysia has asked the U.S. Navy to send the destroyer USS Kidd to the Andaman Sea to patrol, and a P-3 Orion anti-submarine plane has searched west of the Malaysian peninsula to roughly the island of Sri Lanka, a distance of about 1,000 linear miles. The Navy is now sending another aircraft, a P-8, which has more surface search radar, to the Bay of Bengal, after Malaysia requested a search in that area.